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Just got a Martin ALternaitve-X ABG

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ZuluFunk, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001

    Very nice. Mostly got it for the looks. I didn't expect much in the acoustic tone area. A little better than expected there though. It's a bit "hairy" sounding. Not a whole lot of projecting. I probably could hold my own with a guitarist whacking away unplugged on a thin body acoustic and some bongos...but that's pretty much all you can do with most ABGs. So I'm not disappointed in the volume.

    I plugged it in. It runs a Fishman Pro-Bass 4-band system. Pretty good controls. Has a phase switch and a notch filter dial which is supposed to help with feedback. It seems to do the job.

    One problem I did have was with the bridge transducer. I wasn't getting even volume across the strings. E and A were remarkably louder than D and G. I popped the bridge saddle and tapped out the transducer then put it back in place. I put the saddle back in and restrung it.

    I think that may have done the trick. I didn't really get to crank it up to see yet if it's perfect, but I'm pretty sure it's at least better. (Anyone know if that's the right thing to do?)

    The tone I got was way better than I anticipated plugged in. It was a bit raspy, which I wanted, but I could really sparkle it up or cancel that out on the Fishman. Overall, it was sorta more P-bassy than a standard acoustic bass. Maybe the lack of wood-tone dynamics allows it to sound more like an electric.

    It looks totally cool. Built strong too. I'm not as worried about temp/humidity as I would be with a mahogany or spruce ABG. It does have wooden bracing inside. However, the neck is a composite multi-layer laminate. I will keep it in its heavy-duty cushioned case with desiccant bag.

    I had a little trouble with strapping it. The neck-strap button is on the underside of the neck.
    Pretty bizarre. I'm using a leather strap with one of those shoe-lace type of extensions. It's holding well, but the placement of the button makes the body tip slightly forward if you're not holding the neck.
    The other one has the 1/4" adaptor. It's a bit thick, and the notch it has is sorta smallish. I'd be very worried about the strap coming off...but plugged in you really don't have to worry TOO much about that because of the jack.

    Still, I think they could have been more creative on this minor issue.

    The set up was good. The action is really nice, but I'm worried that I don't know how to make any adjustments on this thing like I can on my slabs. Hopefully I won't have to be concerned. I'm not worried about any repair issues...it has a lifetime warrantee and I pass the plant when I go jogging (big plus).

    It's very light.
    It's not bulky like a Tacoma or Taylor or Epiphone.

    The look and tone will go well with the power-pop band I'm playing with now.
  2. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I'll probably have more after this weekend and definately after Tuesday's practice session.
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Nice! I didn't know Martin was making this model - it sounds really useful with that notch filter.

    I've found the endpin jacks are pretty secure, but that upper button location is bizzare.

    The look is great!
  4. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    OK...after enough time working with this thing.

    One word for the bass is "cool"

    Unfortunately, I can't step up and say it sounds awesome, or plays great, or even superbly manufactured.

    Looks= A+ : Unique for sure. Has a definite stage presence. Absolutely the kind of bass that will have everyone coming up to you at breaks and after the gig to check it out.

    Sound= B- : Cool and different. Very much like a P-bass with way more harmonics. Sometimes (based on the eq) it's a bit too full. But, I can get some nice feedback if I want it. I don't think the tone is suited for an everyday bass though. Some of my band's stuff will really benefit from the full, hairy, almost grindy tone. Acoustic tone is pretty lame but better than you'd expect. Not unpleasant, but nothing I'd want to mic.

    Feel= C: Better size than most ABGs. Nice thin body. Neck is super solid stratabond. Big complaint is the placement of the neck-side strap button. It's on the underside of the heel of the neck. This causes the bass to want to tip forward when you're not holding it. You're also forced to use one of those acoustic guitar type straps with the string or leather lanyard. Very light though and suited to swinging all over the place.

    Construction= C: Overall, unique use of materials. No fret problems. Everything is tight. Not a hard bass to put together given what it's made of. However, I had to bring it back already to address a problem that seems to stem from the cut of the saddle slot. I'm not getting even volume across all strings. At low volume you hear the acoustic so you don't notice so much. But at rehearsal, my D and G were dropping out and it had nothing to do with the EQ. It's been in the shop since Monday.

    I dig the bass. 90% of why I got it was because of the looks and the fact that I live two blocks from the factory.

    They also make a couple of Aluminum geetars in this series. One is equipped with the Roland midi device.
    I'm thinking one day this may be a good candidate for a V-bass installation. Maybe even a defret, since I don't know have to adjust the action for fret buzz.
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    What a unique looking (semi)ABG! Wouldn't mind checking one out.